On Wednesday, Senator Ted Cruz attended a town hall, where he took the opportunity to slam the US Department of Education and called for the repeal of the Common Core State Standards. Cruz started by pointing out that federal officials are out of touch with the opinions and needs of rural school districts.
“I think we should abolish the Department of Education. And if you look at what’s happening in education, one of the greatest challenges we’ve got right now is Common Core. If I’m elected President, we will end Common Core. And the reason, you know, it’s interesting. The media takes a position like that and they suggest, ‘Well, gosh, if you want to end the federal Department of Education it must mean you don’t think education is very important.’
“And that gets it exactly backwards. The whole point is education is so important that it shouldn’t be dictated by unelected bureaucrats in Washington deciding what the curriculum is, deciding what the standards are. You know, if you or I don’t like some standard set by some bureaucrat in the bowels of a building in Washington, there’s not a darn thing we can do about it. They’re not listening to us, they don’t care; and when it comes to rural America, I guarantee you, most of those employees of the Department of Education have no idea what is going on in rural America. To their view, if it’s not Manhattan or San Francisco, it’s not America.”
Cruz also pointed out another difference between federal and local control of education: local officials are easier for parents and teachers to hold accountable and vote out, if necessary.
“Look, if the local school board, if they do something dumb, you’ve got immediate accountability. You’re gonna see them at the grocery store. You can chew them out right there. “What the heck are you doing?” And if you really don’t like it, you can decide to run against them. You can throw the bum out of office. I mean, that’s the great accountability of keeping it at the local level; parents have a direct outlet and a way – there’s no way to throw the bum out, a bureaucrat in Washington, and I think we need to be empowering patient – empowering parents and students and also integral to that, is I think we should be looking for ways to expand school choice to empower more and more parents and children to have the maximum choices possible.”
Cruz is a longtime critic of the federally pushed Common Core Standards, and the curriculum has become an increasingly unpopular subject in the Republican field. The only major candidates still openly supporting the standards are Governors John Kasich and Jeb Bush.
As recently as February, Kasich insulted Common Core parents’ concerns by labelling the opposition “hysteria” and “a runaway internet campaign.” At an education meeting in New Hampshire, he said ““I’m not going to change my position because there’s four people in the front row yelling at me.”
Nick Arnold is a researcher for American Principles In Action.